After five days of voting, Huntley Spencer has been elected the 2020-21 President of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), and the Student Activity Fee (SAF) will be mandatory for the next two years.
The results were announced on USG’s Instagram on Sept. 11, about two and a half hours after the polls closed on SB Engaged. The SAF referendum, a vote held every two years to decide if the SAF should be mandatory to pay, passed in favor of its mandatory status by 232 votes.
USG campaigned on its Instagram account in favor of the mandatory fee, which is used to fund the budgets of student organizations. The SAF was reduced from $99.50 to $40 this semester to accommodate for financial difficulties brought on by COVID-19.
Spencer, a senior political science and sociology major, was elected president with a landslide 1,044 votes — 426 more than the runner-up. He has previously served as his class’s USG Freshman and Sophomore Senator. Spencer campaigned with the Actively Furthering Talent Education and Representation (A.F.T.E.R.) Party, one of the two student parties.
In an email to The Statesman, Spencer expressed his gratitude to the student body for electing him as president and participating in this year’s election. According to USG’s Instagram post with the election results, 1,946 students voted in this years’ election.
“It still doesn’t feel real to me, but I am ready to serve the student body to the best of my ability and even more than that,” Spencer wrote. “I look forward to working with everyone in the new administration and past the high standard set by the previous president Shaheer Khan. I hope to be able to bring the best experience and take the concerns that students currently feel very strongly about and stand alongside them to make a change.”
According to their Instagram page, the A.F.T.E.R. Party’s platform includes a push for a 24-hour dining retail location, advocating for Title IX improvements, pushing for improved campus bus routes, working to improve mental health services and helping to voice student concerns about distance learning.
“My main hope is that students will feel welcomed to visit the USG suite and voice their concerns, because my door will always be open for any student who wishes to speak to me about any issues they may have and I will always try to be available for the students of this university,” Spencer wrote. “Thank you all so much, and we will get past this time of crisis with preparation for an amazing rest of the year ahead.”
Along with the presidency, the A.F.T.E.R. Party’s candidates also received the majority of seats in the Executive Council. This includes their candidates Shawn Moore, a senior business management major, as Vice President of Student Life; Naseem Malik, a senior health sciences major, as Vice President of Clubs and Organizations; and Kevin Mahon, a senior computer engineering and mathematics major, as Treasurer. The position of Vice President of Academic Affairs was taken by the A.F.T.E.R. Party’s Khaija Saad, a senior political science and professional writing major who ran unopposed.
The A.F.T.E.R. Party also took the majority of the seats in the senate, with 15 of their party members set to serve. The opposition party, the One Foot Forward (O.F.F.) Party took six seats in the senate. Two of the O.F.F. party candidates, Asna Jamal and Jolena Podolsky, won seats on the Executive Council as Executive Vice President and Vice President of Communications, respectively.
The O.F.F. Party’s platform advocates for livestreaming virtual USG Senate meetings, school supply drives in residence halls, a PPE stock for students, installing a commuter student position in the Office of Student Life, supporting virtual advocacy like petitioning and advocating for formal recognition of campus esports teams.
One elected senator, Willie Bedoya, did not campaign with either party. Only 22 of the 23 USG senator seats were decided in the election due to a tie. A runoff election between candidates Sarah Rahim and Beres Lewis, two members of the O.F.F. Party who tied for a senator seat, will be held from Sept. 14 through Sept. 18, to determine who will be placed in the 23rd senate seat.
The O.F.F. Party’s candidate for president, Justin Ullman, a senior political science and economics major, was runner-up to Spencer with 618 votes. He served as this past years’ Vice President of Academic Affairs and was previously a USG senator.
“Thank you to everyone who took their time to know what my campaign was all about,” Ullman wrote in an email to The Statesman. “I hope some of my platform points can be passed on and make it to fruition this year. I’m looking forward to what’s in stock for USG this year, and wish everyone elected a lot of luck. Mission failed, we’ll get ’em next time.”
The third candidate for USG President, Vincent Ferrara, received 284 votes. The 37-year-old senior psychology major was not aligned with either party.
“Best wishes to all the candidates that won — it was a good time being a part of this,” he said in a call with The Statesman. “We don’t all have to be in a position [in USG] to have an impact… We all have the opportunity to lead.”
In his email, Spencer thanked all of the candidates that ran for election this year.
“It was a beautiful showing of the commitment not only to USG as an organization but to the student body as a whole,” he wrote. “There is no doubt in my mind that all of the candidates were qualified and would’ve done an amazing job.”